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December 15th, 2020
Transforming detection with quantum radar

Radars are being installed at the top of an engineering building at the University of Birmingham as part of a demonstration intended to test and prove the precision of quantum-enabled radar detection capabilities.

A key part of keeping everyday life secure is being able to detect dangerous or unsafe situations before they occur. Quantum enabled radar technology research, undertaken by academics at the UK Quantum Technology Hub Sensors and Timing, aims to do precisely this.

The Quantum Technology Hub is led by the University of Birmingham and partnered with the Universities of Glasgow, Strathclyde, Sussex, Imperial, Nottingham, Southampton as well as the National Physics Laboratory and the British Geological Survey. It has a close focus on industrial collaboration and partnership and. in line with this, the radars are being developed and installed by Aveillant, a radar technology company whose mission is to move radar technology into the information age by powering a full digital picture of the sky.

The radar technology being exhibited at the demonstration is dependent on the Hub’s compact atomic clock oscillators., housed on campus. These oscillators provide the high precision and low signal noise required for the radar to detect small, slow moving objects, such as drones, at longer distances, and even in cluttered environments.

Radar detection is a deceptively complex necessity in the modern world: it is required for a surprisingly wide range of sectors. For example, high precision radar will ensure autonomous vehicles can detect hazards well ahead of time. Hub academics are also developing next generation distributed radar systems, which will transform surveillance by providing much greater coverage and maintaining real-time situational awareness in highly congested and cluttered environments.

The EPRSC-funded project Mapping and Enabling Future Airspace (MEFA), based at the University of Birmingham, will also benefit hugely from the radar installation. MEFA is a three-year interdisciplinary project bringing together radar experts from across the University to study the use of urban airspace. The project will investigate how radar can be used to study the effects of urban developments on migrating birds, and also to differentiate between flying birds and small drones. Data collected during the radar installation will be incredibly beneficial for the MEFA project.

Professor Chris Baker, Chair in Intelligent Sensor Systems at the University of Birmingham, said: “By putting in place this highly sophisticated world-leading technology, we and our partners can explore a wide range of advance, novel networked radar surveillance concepts.”

Dr Dominic Walker, Chief Executive Officer of Aveillant, added “We are delighted that our Holographic Radars are being used in this programme. At Aveillant we are always looking to push the boundaries of our technology, and working with some of the UK’s leading academic institutions such as the University of Birmingham, is allowing us to do just that.”